Chambers Street (name of the northern A,C platforms)/World Trade Center (name of the southern E terminus platforms) is a unique and long IND station in lower Manhattan. The Brooklyn-bound IND station has been called Chambers Street since the station opened in 1932. The terminus platforms (with their unique location) were originally named the Hudson Terminal for the original Hudson Terminal Station of the Hudson & Manhattan Tubes (now PATH). When the Hudson Terminal PATH station was closed (the Hudson Terminal Building had already been torn down) and PATH moved to its new World Trade Center Station in 1971 these platforms were gradually renamed World Trade Center. The platforms originally had H and M tiling beneath the trimline this was originally blacked out. The text was covered over when the station was renovated in 1998 and the terminal platform lost any name beneath the trimline. At this time all the column signs said World Trade Center. Until the C train was extended to Brooklyn during Evenings and Weekends in 1999, the C train used both platforms depending upon the time of day; Rush Hours and Middays: the Chambers Street platform heading to Brooklyn; Evenings and Weekends the World Trade Center Terminal. Passengers had to know which distinct platform to go to get the C train. The station received only minimal damage in the 9/11 attacks with just dust and minimal flooding. By Friday, September 14, 2002 A trains began running via Lower Manhattan again (skipping Broadway-Nassau and Chambers Street), E trains (with the World Trade Center terminal closed) replaced the C train in Brooklyn. On September 21 E trains began using their island platform as a terminus again but with the station still closed with destination signs saying To Canal Street. On October 1, 2001 the A,C Chambers Street platforms. The E's terminal platform finally reopened (although trains were terminating there, running light without passengers since just 10 days after the attacks) on January 28, 2002 at 5am. The signs on the E platform were changed to say Chambers Street but the station is still referred to as World Trade Center (the Chambers Street A,C portion and World Trade Center E portion of the stop are listed separately on the subway map) on the subway map, and in train announcements and destination signs.
The station has a configuration of two island platforms for four tracks that are on the same level but completely staggered from each other. The west and northern platform is an island platform that serves both directions for A,C service to and from brooklyn. The southern World Trade Center platform is a stub-end terminal serving E trains that pull up and terminate at bumper blocks at the southern end of the station. E trains crossover and change directions using a diamond crossover across from the Chambers Street-AC platform. North of the station, before Canal Street downtown E trains on what becomes local track cross beneath the Express A and C tracks to resume the normal express local configuration. It is also not until Canal Street where C trains switch over to join the E's local tracks. The two platforms both have lines of dark blue columns and all the column signs now say Chambers Street, a few with WTC beneath it for PATH. The track walls (where there isn't the E train tracks, or the mezzanine passageway beyond them) were retiled in 1998 and have dark purple trimlines with a black border. On the 'Chambers Street' A,C platform these have Chambers written one tile beneath. The Terminal platform's walls are blank with just the trimline and no tiled text beneath it.
The station is connected by a long mezzanine that forms a continuous path outside of fare control with multiple entrances into the subway system to reach various different staircases. This path is under the western side of the platforms and Church Street so entrances are predominately to that side of the street. This makes the station's transfers slightly confusing. The mezzanine has the same dark blue columns as the platforms. The walls have a single dark purple trimline with a black boarder, beneath this that are most of the various mosaic eyes of Oculus. Others are on other walls in the station.
Our tour of the station begins at the northern end of the station, beneath Chambers Street and Church Street. Here four street stairs, one at each corner of the intersection lead downstairs. There is a wide bank of turnstiles, both regular and a few high and the scar of what was once a token booth, a customer assistant booth in the later years. There are plenty of TVMs. For a few years in the early 2000s this entrance was open on weekends but no turnstiles were, passengers had to walk the entire length of the A,C platform to get to the open 24 hour entrance in the center of the platform. From here the mezzanine becomes split with a fence running down the middle to separate fare control. Four Staircases (the closest one to Chambers Street is just before the northern end of the platform) lead down to the Chambers Street A,C platform. These streetstairs are all signed Continuing south in this split configuration we reach Warren Street. Here there are streetstairs down from the NW and SW corners of Warren and Church Street. These have red globes and lead down to the passageway outside of fare control but by only some high exit only turnstiles. Passengers wanting to enter the system must walk a block north underground to the nearest Chambers Street turnstiles or go south to other entrances. There is an additional high exit turnstile along the mezzanine at the southern end of this section within fare control. This leads to a single exit only staircase to the SE corner of Warren and Church Streets.
The open portion of the mezzanine continues along block south, there are crew rooms over the A,C Chambers Street platform. The next cross street, Murray Street has street stairs to the NW and SW corners. These also have red domes and lead down to high exit turnstiles only at the northern end of the southern half of the A,C mezzanine area. Passengers have to use the passageway outside of fare control to go a block south before they can enter the subway system. This mezzanine area contains another 3 staircases down to the A,C platform and one down to the northern end of the E's terminal platform. This staircase from the E platform is the only one that makes free connections to the rest of the station. It is just after the turnstiles and main entrance beneath Park Place and Chambers Street with streetstairs to all four corners, the streetstair to the SE corner leads up in front of a construction site where construction has been suspended on a 912 foot residential building because of the recession. On the short upper landing of the staircase (many at this station have them) is a blue plywood wall. Until 2006 this was a direct entrance to 99 Church Street. This fare control area contains the token booth and is a bit confusing. There are two, disconnected within fare control at this level, banks of turnstiles, one is to the north at the southern end of the previously mentioned A,C mezzanine. It is signed for the A,C,E and serves staircases to the A,C platform and the single one to the E platform. The other bank is along the western side of the mezzanine and just south of it is the flagship mosaic slightly angled floor pattern of Oculus representing an abstract version of the earth surrounded by eyeballs. This turnstile bank is signed for the 2,3. It leads to a staircase down to the southern end of the A,C platform and another staircase down to the much deeper Park Place 2,3 Station platform. There is no direct connection from the 2,3 platform to the E platform. Passengers must go up the most northern staircase of the E platform to the connecting point on the mezzanine to the A,C platform. Then back down that platform to the the last stairwell (as signs on the platform say) back up to the mezzanine level to finally make the connection to the 2,3.
The mezzanine outside of fare control continues south, now aside the E's World Trade Center terminal platform. Just south of the complicated Chambers Street entrance are an additional two high entrance/exit turnstiles, these lead down to an intermediate landing before splitting into two staircases down to the E platform. The mezzanine then heads downhill with a recently added ramp that has its own railings for ADA compliancy (not that there are any elevators). It's a gradual descent and the east wall becomes a fence, separating it from the west terminal track of the E train's World Trade Center Terminal. A single streetstair leads up (via an intermediate landing, its two flights) to the SW corner of Barclays Street & Church Street. The mezzanine continues another block across from the E platform. Along the walls here are modern exit name tablets with blue tiling for St. Peter's Church and Barclay's Street with arrows beneath. One now says Vesey Street but was clearly added later, the tiles are covering ones that must have said World Trade Center and St. Peter's Church and Barclays Street.
Next, across from the bumper blocks on the E platform, we reach what is presently the busiest staircase in the entire station. It is a narrow staircase between crew rooms for E train crews (one says Lunchroom) up to the pedestrian walkway along the northside of the World Trade Center site. It is the closest exit to the temporary PATH station, a block away at the foot of West Broadway and Greenwich Streets where they end at the World Trade Center site. Small white sings say PATH and WFC (for the World Financial Center) at this staircase. The mezzanine passageway meets a bank of both low and high turnstiles that lead down and past the bumper blocks to the end of the E train's World Trade Center terminal platform. This large fare control area contains another token booth and two streetstairs up to the west side of Church Street alongside the St. Paul's Churchyard just south of Vesey Street. The very end of this mezzanine contains a very wide plywood wall, and a larger than normal walk in newsstand that rests beneath a sign in 1970s font for 'Newsstand & Refreshments'. This is the last commercial remnant of the destroyed on 9/11 shopping and dining concourse at the World Trade Center. Behind the plywood wall is also the 'survivors staircase ,' sets of doors and steps from the subway into the World Trade Center Shopping plaza that survived the 9/11 attacks. The plywood wall was down between 2003 and 2008 and the doors served as a direct connection to the post 9/11 first temporary PATH station. The E train's platform at this station was also wheelchair accessible until 9/11 because of this connection. Wheelchair accessibility was also restored to the E train during these five years of the first temporary PATH station.